Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Sports
Release Date: February 18, 2008
The "Big" label from EA Sports has been a pretty successful attempt at bringing back old-school arcade style sports games to consoles. Quite a few of the franchises have been pretty successful, and EA seems to be willing to take greater chances with the series when it comes to new features. They're constantly changing up the game design, at least in comparison to the more traditional sports simulation titles that they churn out.
Having not played a FIFA title in quite a while, I was expecting to have a pretty great time with FIFA Street 3, but the more I played, the more my enthusiasm diminished. That's not to say that FIFA Street 3 is a horrible game, as it's a good ambassador for the "Big" label. The signature over-the-top moves are definitely featured here, and the overall design of the fields and caricature style of the players is really solid and looks pretty great on the next-gen hardware. The player animations are detailed and incredibly fluid, and the overall action might be repetitive, but it's also much faster than what came before. It's definitely a step up from the previous iterations we've seen on the PS2 and Xbox, at least as far as the visuals are concerned.
The signature EA music selection is also in fine form here, with a pretty large variety of tracks that does a great job of bringing home the worldwide feel of soccer, with a large number of tracks representing musical tastes that would normally be outside of the mainstream music scene for most of America. There are about 30 tracks all together, and I can't really pick a bad one out of the bunch.
While the presentation of FIFA Street 3 is definitely solid, the underlying gameplay feels pretty bland. As I said, you have all of the basic tricks and over-the-top move sets that are typically found in these titles, but nothing about the game really feels like soccer to me. I'd liken it to EA's NBA titles more than anything else, with quite a few of the trick moves and passes resembling the same things done in the basketball titles, only with feet instead of hands.
If you've ever sat down to watch a professional soccer match, you'll notice that every player on the field has an incredible amount of dexterity. They'll move their feet faster than you can follow, deftly bouncing the ball back and forth while racing down the field at an incredible speed. The defense is also tenacious, willing to sacrifice their bodies to the mercy of the field with every tackle or slide. When you get down to it, it's a really intense sport to follow, which is exactly why FIFA Street 3 is a pretty major letdown.
There's nothing "intense" about the action in FIFA Street. Instead, you're left with a haphazard AI against which to battle, and a whole slew of crazy passes and shots that end up becoming monotonous and boring when the novelty wears off after watching the umpteenth spinning bicycle kick or stellar headshot. There's nothing amazing about a trick that you can pull off successfully with little effort time and time again, especially when the defense you're playing against can never seem to get it together enough to prove a threat.
The same also holds true when you're on the defensive side of things, and your move set is even more limited here. While the offense can pull of a variety of passes and fakes, including some tricks that simply involve moving the ball down the field, your options on defense are just simple steals and tackles, with little variety in the way you can perform either function. Even goal defense is a major disappointment, and given the lack of available options, it feels less arcade-like and more like the sports simulation titles.
FIFA Street 3 includes the signature Gamebreaker mode from the other "Big" titles. When you enter into Gamebreaker mode, you've given your players the equivalent of sports superpowers, where they can pass quicker, avoid steals more so than before, and make even more outrageous trick goals. Gamebreaker mode tends to lay waste to the defense or offense, depending on which side you're on when you trigger it. You'll enter this mode by stringing together a number of trick combos, either through passes, stealing or footwork. It's definitely the flashiest thing about the series, and it holds up well here.
FIFA Street 3 lacks a basic career mode, which is a pretty major disappointment. Most of the "Big" titles allow you to create your own superstar and put him through the motions of going toe-to-toe with the biggest names in the sport; he'll get to amass virtual wealth, items for customization, and unlockables such as additional modes, secret teams, players, and more. Unfortunately, the idea of a career mode has been put aside in FIFA Street 3 for a series of challenges that pits you against the various world teams. Each challenge has a certain requirement for you to win the match; you'll need to make a certain number of Gamebreaker goals, string together a number of combos, or win a match by a certain number of points.
Through the challenges, you'll unlock available players in the game, with a final roster comprised of 250 players. The roster is definitely a highlight of the title, with quite a few recognizable names that even the most basic soccer fan will enjoy playing. Each player's likeness has been captured in a caricature style, so while everyone looks a bit like a cartoon, they're all completely recognizable.
While the challenge mode makes up the majority of the gameplay available in FIFA Street 3 there are a few other modes with which you can pass the time. In the Playground Picks mode, you select from a roster of 10 players, with your opponent and yourself taking turns picking from the group. This mode can be played offline with up to four players, and online with up to eight players.
There's also a World Challenge mode that has you selecting your favorite team and combining your results online with other players who have picked the same team. Basically, it's a standard game of FIFA Street 3 taken online, with your stats compared and added to the other stats from like-minded players. This mode is strictly online, since the stat comparison is such an integral part of it. There isn't a real tournament mode, though, so you'll have to be satisfied with standard player-versus- player matches for the online and offline modes.
Rounding out the available modes is a simple Head-to-Head option, or quick match, that can also be played on- and offline. You can do a basic scoring match like your typical soccer game, or you can opt to change the rules to include different challenges, similar to the Challenge mode in the title's single-player portion.
It feels like every step FIFA Street 3 takes in the right direction is countered by two steps backward. While the title has made great strides in improving the overall look of the players and fields, the actual gameplay has already grown incredibly bland and repetitive. There needs to be something that not only spices up the variety of moves and options, but also helps to give FIFA Street a definitive "soccer" feel. Overall I'd say that FIFA Street 3 is a pretty average arcade sports title, with not enough going for it to keep players interested for long. It is one of the only arcade-style soccer games out there, though, so if you've wanted to try one, this is definitely your best bet. Here's hoping some improvements to the overall gameplay and available modes can be made for the next entry in the series.
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